From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Portrait of Dr. Gachet is one of the most revered paintings by Vincent van Gogh of Dr. Paul Gachet, who took care of him in his last months. In 1990, it fetched a record price of $82.5 million ($75 million, plus a 10 percent buyer's commission).
Dr. Gachet was also an artist of the Impressionist era. He was an amateur painter and engraver. Vincent van Gogh went to the doctor for medical care. Van Gogh saw himself in the doctor; like himself, he saw in Dr. Gachet “the heart-broken expression of our time.” Similar to many of van Gogh’s portraits, the painting is a study not of the physical features of the man, but of the inner qualities of the doctor’s personality. The portrait of Dr. Gachet notes all the tiniest details of his appearance and depicts them in the way that van Gogh sees them. The characteristics of the doctor’s image are all freely painted so that the viewer may see them the same way that van Gogh does.
To Theo van Gogh. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Sunday, 11 May 1890.
My dear brother,
Thanks very much for your registered letter containing 150 francs, which arrived this morning. I also received canvases and colours from Tasset & Lhote (were those from Tanguy in the same consignment?), and I can’t thank you too much for them, for if I didn’t have my work I’d have sunk far deeper long since. At the moment the improvement is continuing, the whole horrible crisis has disappeared like a thunderstorm, and I’m working here with calm, unremitting ardour to give a last stroke of the brush. I’m working on a canvas of roses on bright green background and two canvases of large bouquets of violet Irises, one lot against a pink background in which the effect is harmonious and soft through the combination of greens, pinks, violets. On the contrary, the other violet bouquet (ranging up to pure carmine and Prussian blue) standing out against a striking lemon yellow background with other yellow tones in the vase and the base on which it rests is an effect of terribly disparate complementaries that reinforce each other by their opposition.
These canvases will take a good month to dry, but the man who works here will take care of sending them after my departure.
I’m planning to leave as soon as possible this week, and I’m starting to pack my trunk today.
I’ll send you a telegram from Tarascon.
Yes, it seems to me, too, that there’s been a very long period between the day when we said our goodbyes at the railway station and these present days. But – strange thing again that, just as that day we were so struck by Seurat’s canvases, these last days here are once again like a revelation of colour to me. My dear brother, I feel I have more confidence in my work than when I left, and it would be ungrateful of me to speak ill of the south, and I confess that it’s with great sorrow that I turn my back on it.
If your work prevented you from coming to get me at the station, or if it was at a difficult time or if the weather was too bad, don’t worry, I’d certainly find my way, and I feel so calm that it would greatly astonish me if I lost my composure.
How much I want to see you again, and meet Jo and the baby.
It’s likely that I’ll arrive in Paris around 5 o’clock in the morning. But anyway, the telegram will tell you precisely.
The day I leave depends on my having packed my trunk and finished my canvases, I’m working on the latter with so much enthusiasm that packing my trunk seems more difficult to me than doing the paintings. Anyway it won’t be long. I’m very glad that it hasn’t dragged on, which is always lamentable when one makes a resolution. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the Japanese prints, and also I don’t at all disdain seeing the Salon, in which it seems to me that there’ll be interesting things all the same, although having read Le Figaro’s account, indeed it leaves me more or less cold.
Warm regards to Jo, and good handshake in thought.